A Show for Your Weekend – Mansfield ’99 2

After another relative hiatus, A Show for Your Weekend is back, with some AUD-y goodness for you audiophiles out there!

Throughout the Summer of ’99 Phish was busy making their way across the U.S. working on a rock sound that can best be described as “as hot as most of the stops on tour that month.”  While Camden ’99 was included as a LivePhish release, and various songs have found their way to Kevin Sharpiro’s LiveBait (hello Oswego Runaway Jim > Free!) and From the Archives releases, few shows have the sound quality now available for this Mansfield show.

In recent days news started to hit Twitter and the internet that Charlie Miller – famed Grateful Dead taper and tape transfer-er – was setting his sights on upgrading Phish shows. One of the first in a series of shows that hit eTree this week was Mansfield ’99 night 2. Phish fans familiar with Miller’s work with Dead shows over the years, available through the archive.org warehouse,  know they’re in for a treat before diving into his work on this great Summer ’99 show.

Tuesday, 07/13/1999
Tweeter Center, Mansfield, MA

Set 1: NICU, The Curtain > Halley’s Comet -> Roses Are Free -> NO2[1], Lawn Boy, Reba[2] > Carini > Funky Bitch

Set 2: Wolfman’s Brother > Piper, Bug > Mountains in the Mist, Run Like an Antelope[3] > Possum[4]

Encore: Tuesday’s Gone[5]

[1] For the first known time, NO2 included the instrumental ending originally included on The White Tape.
[2] No whistling.
[3] Meatstick teases.
[4] Scott Murawski on guitar.
[5] Phish debut; Scott Murawski on guitar.

While the night may be remembered by a majority of folks for how it ends, the material included before touches on all aspects of the Phish sound. NICU opens the show, something it has only done a handful of times since, and sets the tone for a distinct set complete with jams, some darkness and more with an a-typical ending section. Mike shines through the opening and closing sections of The Curtain, especially on Miller’s remaster which also points to the slight hint that this version is going to be the first “With” in a decade. But alas, we wait until the next summer for that.

Mansfield '99 Courtesy of OhKeePahBlog.com

Halley’s Comet and Roses are Free pair together well – and are connected with a seamless “->” – to give the crowd an early first set piece of patient jamming complete with patterns, loops and a varied pace before dumping into the first dark taste of the evening in NO2. While a bit of an anomaly in the traditional sense, NO2 and similar songs are elementally Phish. This particular version, as noted in the phish.net notes, contains the instrumental ending from The White Tape that puts a pep in the song’s step. Contrasting the darkness, instrumental tone and digital effects of NO2, Lawn Boy serves as a transition piece into the second half of the set.

As again noted in Reba the MVP of this set – and Charlie Miller’s remaster – is most certainly Cactus. His efforts shine on the new recording and drive the band through the first sections here perfectly and uniquely.  Mid-way through, Mike finds a rare piece of the Reba groove to give Trey some added opportunities to noodle in and out of the general Reba theme. As the exceptional, yet whistle-less Reba concludes, Carini emerges in a rare spot for another slightly dark moment. The set closes with some high-tempo blues with Funky Bitch – a second time Mike shined for his vocals in the set.

In the late-90’s, Wolfman’s was more than a tightly-woven, consistent 10-12 minute Type I jam favorite as it has become in 3.0. One of the last times Wolfman’s completely departed from its sound was to open the second set in Mansfield. Topping out over 21 minutes, this version brings the funk from the get-go with a seemingly slower tempo to start. The slowed tempo continues as Mike and Fish provide a unique groove still within the Wolfman’s spectrum until about 11 minutes in when the the band locks in to a subtle jam, waiting for the next phase to emerge. Various breakdowns and fill from Fish, including woodblocks and more, spark on the new Miller remaster.

The Wolfman’s jam meanders through various levels of Type II and ambient jams at 16:30 – 21:25 and finds its way to Piper, a great ’99 1-2 punch. A true-to-form build in Piper for more than 2:30 to get the real theme started and 4:45 to get the lyrics going, this version lets Page take the stage with great work on the baby grand – obviously enhanced further by Miller’s work.

The set takes a breather from there, winding through Bug and the now-rare Mountains in the Mist. Bringing the energy level back is a scorching Antelope that most probably thought would end the set – especially in 1999 – complete with Meatstick teases and a segue into Possum.

For Possum – another Gordon led excursion – guitarist extraordinaire and long-time Phish-friend Scott Murawski joins the fun and drives the band through a great version of the veteran song. For the encore, the band’s only foray into Skynyrd’s Tuesday’s Gone shines as a unique cover with powerful guitar work from Big Red and Murawski. It may not have been the energy from the Terrapin Station encore a summer before, but the fans in Mansfield sure sound like they’re appreciative of the choice.

All in all, this a fantastic all-around Phish show multiplied greatly by the remastering of a genius. Thank you Mr. Miller!